• Record-smashing 2017 hurricane season ends

    By: Irene Sans


    Over a thousand deaths, and with an estimated $360 billion in damages, to say the 2017 hurricane season was active, would be an understatement.

    This season showed that there can be an active season in which many of the storms make landfall and there can be an active season where most of the storms stay over water, such as in 2012.


    There were seven storms which made U.S. landfall. Florida was hit directly three times – by Emily, Irma, and Philippe.


    Every month of the hurricane season (June-November) had at least one named storm.

    In fact, 2017 ended with 17 named storms and was the most active season since 2012 (19 named storms), and the fifth most active since records began.



    Out of the 17 named storms, 10 were hurricanes and six of those were major hurricanes (at least category 3 or above)—this puts 2017 in third place for the most major hurricanes to form in a season, and the first time ever that three consecutive major hurricanes formed.





    All 10 hurricanes this season developed within a 10-week period.


    The term rapid intensification was often used this season. Rapid intensification is when a storm increases at least 35 mph in maximum sustained winds in less than 24 hours – this season there were seven storms that went through this process.


    It was the first time on record that three hurricanes made U.S. landfall as major hurricanes – Harvey, Irma, and Maria. It was the second time on record that two category 5 hurricanes made landfall (Irma and Maria).


    Harvey became the first major hurricane to make U.S. landfall since Wilma in 2005. Hurricane Harvey left catastrophic damage along the Texas coast. It started as a tropical wave coming off Africa near the middle of August and it made landfall late August as a category 4 hurricane near Port Aransas, Texas. Within the same day as landfall, Harvey became a tropical storm, but it was caught between two high-pressure systems which locked Harvey for days over southeast Texas as a tropical storm, still near the coast enough to feed off the warm waters, but with hardly any movement. The system produced the most rainfall ever registered by any storm in the U.S., over 60 inches of rain. Harvey became the costliest hurricane on record, almost $200 billion.





    While Harvey was making landfall, another tropical wave emerged from Africa, which later became Hurricane Irma. Irma set many records:

    • Second strongest winds in the Atlantic (outside of the Gulf of Mexico or the Caribbean Sea)
    • The 11th most intense hurricane in the entire Atlantic basin.
    • 37 hours with wind speeds of 185 mph. The longest amount of time at this intensity in the world
    • Third highest Accumulated Cyclone Index on record.


    Read: NOAA’s calls for an extremely active rest of the season

    Irma destroyed 95 percent of Barbuda and St. Martin, killed a total of 134 people. In Florida, Irma prompted the evacuation of over 4 million Floridians, left millions without power and affected every county. It left 30 rivers above flood stage and spun 18 tornadoes.


    La devastadora temporada de huracanes termina, nuestra meteoróloga Irene Sans trae un recuento.


    Jose also became a major hurricane, through rapid intensification, remaining over the Atlantic. Katia made landfall in eastern Mexico as Florida was dealing with Hurricane Irma.

    During mid-September, Lee also went through rapid intensification over the Central Atlantic, but it remained well away from land.


    WATCH: Most devastating hurricanes in history

    While Lee was over the Central Atlantic, a tropical wave emerged from Africa. It would later become the catastrophic Hurricane Maria. It went through rapid intensification before striking Dominica as a category 5 hurricane and the entering Puerto Rico’s southeastern region as a strong category 4 hurricane. Maria devastated Puerto Rico. The island's electric grid was destroyed, and thousands of people from the mountainous regions are still without communication, electricity or ways to receive help. The total number of fatalities is still unknown, but there could be over 1,000 deaths directly associated with Hurricane Maria and more than $100 billion in damages.




    Nate emerged from a disturbance over the southwestern Caribbean. At first, the storm was moving slowly, but once it entered the Gulf of Mexico it traveled at 28 mph toward the U.S. Gulf Coast. Nate became the fastest moving hurricane over the Gulf of Mexico, before smashing into the mouth of the Mississippi River.


    Ophelia was the last hurricane of the 2017 season. It became the easternmost Atlantic major hurricane on record.



    Tropical storm Philippe made landfall over the Florida Everglades late October. It spun tornadoes in the West Palm Beach area in South Florida. The remnants of this system produced thousands of power outages in Eastern Canada and the northeast U.S.





    Finally, there was Rina, a storm that only reached tropical storm status in early November, remaining over the open Atlantic waters.



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